Rick Page, CEO & Founder
David Stargel, President & COO
Liz McCune, VP of Marketing
Peter Bourke, VP & Senior Principal
Hmmm ... accountability. It is one of the most important attributes and sales traits of great salespeople and achievers in general. It is a major trait that separates winners from losers and should be examined in any hiring interview. There is a character flaw in many people that will always restrain their success - it is basically whom they hold responsible for their performance.
Our principals review many sales deals along with the managers of our clients. Among the reasons that we see sales plans fail are simply poor execution. Almost all of this stems from:
In building countless sales skills and hiring profiles for my own sales forces as well as my clients, one of the consistent traits that we have found in most successful salespeople is that of courage. It is one of the 10 Pillars of Sales Performance that I speak on and train sales managers to rate as a must-have in their Hiring Profiles. There are, of course, different kinds of courage - physical, military, organization, interpersonal and the courage to do the right thing.
Assume you are about to go hunting on 500 acres of land that is split into parcels with a different kind of animal in each parcel (i.e. squirrels in one parcel and Moose in another). You would never walk randomly through these vast parcels and hope you find an animal that suits your fancy. It’s inefficient and frustrating. Alternatively, the smart hunter would try to understand the lay of the land and identify where the ideal prey exists and focus their efforts in these parcels – right? This is what segmentation is all about.
As salespeople and sales managers we have all been raised to be optimistic about life. Otherwise you wouldn't get up and do this job every day. And most have heard every motivational speaker talk about optimism. My father-in-law would come to breakfast every day and yell "I feel great!" and make us yell it too. The curious thing is that after you yelled it, you did feel great!
When I sat down to start writing the eBook we just published and launched (details on how to get your free version below) I was pondering why deal coaching has been lost as a competency in many sales organizations today. It was a core competency in many of the largest, best known organizations when I started my career at IBM and I’ll bet you can name countless other companies that excelled in this arena.
A key to success in business development, as in any strategic endeavor, is picking winnable battles. Realistically, of course, how you qualify prospective customers depends on how many opportunities you have in relation to the resources available to actually do the work. Salespeople with a full pipeline and more prospects than they can handle qualify prospects very differently than those who are just getting into the game at a lesser-known company or in a new territory. There are no universal sales tactics or models for qualifying prospects.
"The answer then, is a question" - Zig Ziglar. Questions are the tools of the trade for salespeople. They gather information like a radar or sonar ping. But consultative selling, whch has been trained since the 70's, stresses asking questions about need well before showing the product and they are right.
The birth of consultative selling came in the 1970s. The state of the art of selling had not changed much from the Industrial Revolution. The first step from art to science in selling was made by a consultant named Neil Rackham, in his book Spin Selling (McGraw-Hill). After observing thousands of sales calls, he came to an interesting and unexpected conclusion - the best salespeople were not necessarily the best talkers - they were the best listeners. They listened first and talked second; they discovered the need before presenting a solution.
Research shows that less than half of all forecasted opportunities will close. A recent survey by CSO Insights found that 26.1% of forecasted deals are typically lost to no decision and another 27.4% are lost to the competition. The good news is that there is something sales managers can do to improve these statistics if they work more closely with salespeople to impact sales strategy and win rates early enough in the process. Organizations with consistent sales strategy and coaching practices experience 10-15% better win rates than those that don’t. But if coaching yields such big returns, why aren’t most sales managers doing it more often? It needs to be a habit, a discipline.